Using the newspaper, as well as Steve's alter ego, a Renaissance man named "Floyd Flapjacque," the students receive a "Nudging the Imagination" lesson in expository writing, learning how to ask good questions and how to be effective note-takers while also learning the differences between the three basic types of stories they’ll find in a newspaper – news, feature, column/editorial.
The students participate in a zany group interview of Floyd, a self-proclaimed certified genius who skydives, owns an ant farm, has won a Betty Crocker Award and is a superstar baseball player.
When the interview has been concluded, one-third of the class will write the story up as a news story, one-third as a feature and one-third as a column/editorial. They will learn there are slightly different ways of looking at the same material.
This writing workshop can be translated very effectively into the Social Studies curriculum, as chapter review, bringing the content to life in an “active learning” way. If you have studied George Washington, for instance, someone in the class becomes "George" and is interviewed by the class.
If a student wrote a news story with "Floyd," he or she will write a feature story with "George," and when Thomas Jefferson visits, he or she will write a column/editorial, getting used to writing for a purpose in different ways.
This session can be performed in 45 minutes, though time can be added for a question-and-answer session revolving around Steve's job as a sports writer, covering the Boston Red Sox for the Providence (RI) Journal.